The Reticent – On The Eve Of A Goodbye

I will admit that Chris Hathcock and his band The Reticent, although now four albums into their catalogue, have not been on my radar up to this point.  And while sometimes it’s a challenge to go into a somewhat established musical act with no expectations, it can be daunting to take that ignorance and make the first experience a concept album.  And “On The Eve Of A Goodbye” isn’t just any concept album, this is a true story.

Hathcock, who plays most of the instruments and performs all vocals, based the subject matter of this album on the suicide of his close friend Eve.  As gripping of a subject as that is, I know that before I listened to the album and had this background on the material, I was wondering how someone goes about pulling that off in musical form.  Lots of questions surface, but the main one for me is will they honour the memory of the departed?

And with that information, I must explicitly state that this album is not meant to be put on and listened to unless you’re willing to give all of your attention to it.  It is a very heavy album to listen to (not just in musical terms but in lyrical terms too).  A good pair of headphones, a clear head, and your full attention is needed for the material to seep into you and immerse your mind in the story of the final 24 hours of this tortured soul.

And yes, 24 hours is the timeline in this concept.  Through 15 tracks clocking in at over 72 minutes of material, the countdown starts and moves through the wide range of emotions that Eve deals with in her final day on Earth, with tracks ranging from soft and melancholy, to pounding and bombastic.  The music would best be described as the most well orchestrated and emotional moments of Opeth and Tool.  And yes, although that is a very big comparison, it is definitely warranted.  The intense, uncomfortable, and unnerving subject matter of the album is felt in every detail of the music, from the forceful instrumentation, right through to the soft and tender lull of Hathcock’s melancholic and dramatic vocals.

Unlike some concept albums which I find a chore to sit through, this album has so many songs that can stand on their own instead of becoming just a part of a story.  I find that point gets lost on so many band’s when attempting the conceptual side of music composition, but with this album, there’s just so much good material to pay attention to and it’s so well composed that the songs truly are their own.  “The Girl Broken” and “The Hypocrite” are upbeat and driven for the most part, highlighting the frantic state of the first part of the timeline.  “The Comprehension” stands as one of the best representations of the album’s sound, with it’s twist and turns, and the emotional gutshot that you can hear in not only Hathcock’s voice, but in all the instruments presented.

Although those tracks are some of the more instrumentally potent on the album, moving through the songs as we get near the end of Eve’s life, “2 Hours Left” hits us with Eve’s short and haunting words as she struggles to explain her departure from the world.  “The Decision” obviously makes for an emotional listen as we know what is going to happen, and all we can do is hear how the finality of the situation plays out.  “Funeral For A Firefly” is definitely the hardest piece to listen to emotion-wise.  The labored breathing and upset tone from Hathcock makes this a hard song to get through, especially with Eve talking and singing from beyond the grave.  You can actually hear the pain in Hathcock’s voice, which is all the more powerful considering this is real life and the music is being created by his emotions.

All I can say is that for myself, a person not usually riveted by concept albums or lyrical matter in general, I was generally taken aback by this album.  Hathcock has done what few seem to be able to in the metal world these days, and that’s to create genuine emotion and feelings, taken from a very private and secluded spot in the mind, and to put it together into an incredible tribute to his dear friend.  From the incredible music with is played with persistence and proficiency right through to the delicate and upsetting subject matter, I can safely say that this album stands with any classic concept album that people will try and compare it with.  But like I previously mentioned, this is a real story involving real people, and as upsetting as it was to go through for Hathcock, I’m sure Eve would be extremely proud of him for pouring his emotions into this album which serves as a reminder that life is precious, and not perfect.

 

Tracklist:

01. 24 Hours Left
02. The Girl Broken
03. The Hypocrite
04. 19 Hours Left
05. The Comprehension
06. The Confrontation
07. The Apology
08. 10 Hours Left
09. The Mirror’s Reply
10. The Postscript
11. 2 Hours Left
12. The Decision
13. Funeral For A Firefly
14. The Day After
15. For Eve

Playing time: 72:46

Release date: 5 October, 2016

Label: Heaven & Hell Records

Website: The Reticent Official Website

Liam Savage
About Liam Savage 46 Articles
I've always enjoyed metal music, but only had that real breakthrough moment while watching music videos on TV, and Pantera's "Mouth For War" and Sepultura's "Arise" came on back-to-back. This started a love affair and passion for metal that has happened since the early 90's. Since then, I've amassed quite a large CD collection, have written for Unrestrained! magazine in the early 2000's, and after taking about a ten year break from writing, joined "Power Of Metal" in 2016. My favourite sub-genres in metal are Progressive, Technical, Death, Power, Folk, Experimental and more.

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